I read so many articles either directly or indirectly related to concussions, proving that there is a lack of understanding of what a concussion is. In North Carolina, parents wanted a bill passed giving them the right to decide on a return to play; not only medical professionals. A Cleveland high school was sued after the school claimed a student suffered a concussion; the parents wanted him to play football in the state championship.
You just read those two cases of parents fighting the school and the state to have their kids return to play, and you might shake your head and say, “Wow, those are some bad parents!” Are they bad parents? Or are they just misinformed? The vast majorities of people are misinformed, and surprisingly, doctors too. There is so much research that is being released on a monthly basis surrounding the concussion epidemic. And with every passing day, former athletes are coming out to speak of what the effects of concussions have had on them. But what if their concussion was undetected, and in turn never treated, what is the impact on their lives?
A concussion occurs from an impact to the brain. An impact to the brain occurs by hitting the head, falling on your bum, hitting the spine, or being shaken roughly.
What are some Concussion symptoms?
As you can see, the symptoms of a concussion are quite vast and can affect all aspects of life. Now, for the average Joe, they can get diagnosed, research proper treatment and get better. Athletes, on the other hand, are different, they suffer head trauma daily, and their symptoms don’t go away with time, they worsen. There have been lawsuits against the NFL and FIFA. The NFL is changing the rules on tackling, and even releasing new training materials people can use at all levels and ages of play. But consequently, to avoid having players retire prematurely due to head trauma like, A.J. Tarpley, the NFL is also not recruiting as many players who have an education. FIFA is reacting differently; can you imagine soccer without heading the ball? I know I can’t, but that might end up being the future of soccer. The epidemic that is concussions is pushing all the sports associations and athletes to change their dialogue and support research.
This disease was made famous with the movie concussion. It is a degenerative disease of the brain caused by repeated impacts to the brain. This disease is progressive which means that it will get worse with time, and has different subtypes. One of the subtypes is dementia pugilistica (punch-drunk) which was first detected in boxers. It is documented that most people start to notice symptoms 8-10 years after repetitive trauma to the brain has occurred.
Dr. Ann McKee at Boston University is conducting a research project, conducting autopsies on the brains of deceased hockey players. In a recent publication, she described the autopsies of four junior hockey players who passed away. These four hockey players had a few things in common:
While the link between ALS and concussions is not very well understood, it is important to point out, that research has found that athletes who play in sports with a lot of head trauma are 11 times more likely to develop early-onset aggressive ALS. One prime example is Steve Gleason who has been documented since his diagnosis in 2011. If you look at the Wikipedia list of notable people with ALS, you will notice a large amount of American football players. This is a finding and connection that can’t be ignored.